No Kylie. No Kendall. No Khloe. No Iggy. No Kim. No Miley. No Rachel.
No to all y’all.
This past week has seen Miley Cyrus “give up” hip hop, and Julz whatever her name is cancelled in my city for using the word “nigga” one too many times. Once again, Black women stared in collective confusion wondering (rhetorically) how these women achieved this notoriety in the first place.
WE know. So lemme try to explain it to those who don’t get it, or who are woefully obtuse.
BEFORE you grab a cape and tell Black women – or any other woman of colour, or hell, women period – that this is about race, it’s NOT about race.
This is about being rewarded for plagiarism. Remember that time you let a kid copy your homework and they got the better grade? Yeah. Exactly. Julz and her aforementioned cohorts are regularly criticized for their performance of Blackness. Let me be really clear: these women were NEVER “down”, they were NEVER “cool with us”, and they were NEVER given an invite to the cookout. We get mad with those of you who elevate their mediocrity because we know you only do so because it seems like a novelty.
Meanwhile, those who ARE, those who CAN, and those who will ALWAYS be, are told that they’re just “regular”, or worse, lesser than.
Julz and her ilk are not new. I knew girls like Julz in high school. They dated Black guys to upset their fathers. They even had “likkle brownin’s” that looked like me to further solidify their hood passes. Keyword: pass. Just like Black people have done throughout the years, these women were simply “passing” as a means to an end. They capitalize on the novelty, earning money, fame, and more money from it.
The money YOU give them. The money you won’t give us because we’re not enough of a juxtaposition to make it seem cool. Rather than recognizing the magic, you get excited by three card monte.
They co-opt our shades with buckets of self-tanner stopping just short of blackface. They braid their hair in intricate styles and post up on the Pinterest instead of the ‘Gram. They squat, inject, and twerk their asses to Hottentot proportions and you buy it every single time. But if we object, we’re jealous. We’re haters.
For every NO we say to Julz, there are yes’s to our White girlfriends who sing along to Beyonce with us at the club. For every NO we say to Kylie and her Khornrows, there are dozens of yes’s to our White girlfriends who have Black boyfriends and husbands and we HAPPILY stand as bridesmaids at their weddings. For every NO we have for Rachel, there are hundreds of yes’s for our White friends who stand beside us and shout, “BLACK LIVES MATTER”.
Sure, they sometimes have to get jokes and song lyrics explained to them. They know we can lose a whole day to getting our hair braided (properly). They love plantain even if they pronounce it “plan-TANE”. They body roll to Chaka Khan, think we are beautiful in all shades, and ask for cocoa butter beauty secrets. They watch Scandal and ooh over Olivia’s outfits with the same passion we do. We aren’t mad at them.
They don’t try to Columbus our lived experiences for their personal gain, because they are confident in who THEY are and what their relationship to us is in the world. Because they also know how OUR relationship to the world differs from their own. When they call to see how we’re feeling about the latest #INSERTDEADNEGROHERE hashtag, they don’t open the convo with “hey girl heyyyyy” or perform Blackness to engage in a conversation with us– they are our friends and they want to know how we feel.
But you don’t see those women, because they’re not injected and deep-fried for your misguided consumption. So instead, you accuse Black women of being mad that “White women are taking over”, and assume means every White woman.
WE are mad at the White women who are TAKING FROM US because they’re the ones YOU KEEP GIVING YOUR MONEY TO. Because once they’ve exhausted this revenue stream, they will cut their hair into a pixie, put on a long flowing white dress, and pose on the cover of Marie Claire with a doe-eyed expression announcing their return to virtue or if they’re not famous, they’ll submit a personal essay to Jezebel or Buzzfeed. They will talk about lost years spent with all the “wrong people” and detail that one morning they woke up and thought, “what am I doing with my life?” They’ll talk about how misogynistic the music was, and how they’ve realized that bodies shouldn’t be objectified. They will find peace and “real love” through a guy named Will. The main picture will be them sitting on their porch with their cocker spaniel named Daisy. You won’t recognize her at first because her name will be Julieanna, or Chloe, or Sam, her skin will be it’s natural shade of milky white (“SPF 50 is, like, so mandatory”), and her “thug life” tattoo will have been lasered off.
They’ll sit back and reminisce about “those days” with “those people” and they will chuckle softly to themselves while they count all that money you gave them.
As for us? We will go back to living our lives and comfort each other with reminders that these chicks never had the range. We’ll dance in a circle and celebrate our magic. We’ll braid our hair and revel in our melanin. We will say YES to all that is real and wonderful and ours. We will give each other OUR money and be enriched through our mutual support. But YOU will be denied entry from her world…and ours.
So you tell me: why do you keep saying “yes” when at the end of it all, you’re only going to be told, “no”?